There are some cars that with age become better and better. This is true for the very tasty yet sometimes overlooked 2015 BMW Z4 sDrive28i retractable hardtop convertible which is this week’s test car.
Before we talk about my week long visit with this little beauty, a brief history lesson is in order. The BMW Z3 was BMW’s first mass produced mass-market roadster, and was the first new BMW model to be manufactured in the United States. The BMW Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995 and made a short appearance in the James Bond film Golden Eye. The Z3 was OK, but never quite did it for me in drop top form.
The Z3 ended production in 2002 when the BMW Z4 replaced it. The first Z4 was controversial with its “flame surface” styling treatment by designer Chris Bangle along with a cranky SMG automated manual gearbox. I liked the first generation Z4 and have fond memories of cruising Sunset Boulevard in LA in a red Z4 many times during my ten years with Motor Trend.
Now lets talk all about the second generation of the Z4, which debuted for the 2009 model year with assembly moving to Germany and with the product also moving decisively upscale.
My Z4 sDrive28i is a rare piece as it looks great both top up or down. As general rule, convertibles often look beautiful with the top down, but awkward with it up. Not so with 2015 BMW Z4, which looks equally good both ways. The long hood combined with a short trunk and overall muscular feel to the car especially in the fender treatment makes the BMW Z4 look great from any angle. With the top up, it passes as a sexy coupe.
Despite cutting into trunk space I love the folding hardtop on the 2015 BMW Z4, it gives you two cars in one. On sunny days, you have a fun drop-top roadster. On rainy ones, you have the buttoned down and quiet drive associated with a coupe.
Inside the Z4 proves to be quite roomy in addition to excellent headroom, the Z4 offers good legroom, even for tall drivers. The materials inside are upscale, base models offering decent leatherette on the seats, and higher trim models offering genuine leather.
My base Z4 sDrive28i starting price of $48,950 comes with a lot of standard equipment, including s 8-way power seats, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive xenon headlights that swivel in conjunction with the steering wheel. Safety comes in the form of six airbags, embedded emergency services with automatic collision notification, and adaptive brake lights that emit a larger, brighter light as brake forces increase. Very cool indeed!
My test vehicle also had the M Sport Package ranks highest on our list of must-have add-ons, as it incorporates such features as the aforementioned adaptive suspension, a thick-rimmed steering wheel, aerodynamically tuned body pieces, and sport seats. If you are buying a Z4, you must get the M sport package. The Adaptive M suspension is just plain great. Most folks understand that as general rule that sports cars are known for having harsh suspensions, and grand tourers have soft suspension. Thanks to an optional adaptive suspension system, the 2015 BMW Z4 delivers both, allowing drivers to select between Normal, Sport and Sport+. Placing the Z4 in Sport also changes throttle mapping and the performance of the outstanding servotronic sport automatic transmission.
My loaded test car also had technology package, cold weather package and premium sound package for total list price of $58,250. I find the Z4 to be great alterative to the Audi TT Roadster, Mercedes SLK and the Porsche Boxster. In my opinion, it has evolved into a much better machine since its introduction and deserves a second look. But this little roadster really surprised me on many levels.
The 2015 Z428i is joy to drive on twisty roads and the power of twin turbo 2.0 liter four cylinder is simply outstanding. The Z4 delivers 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy ratings are 22 city and 33-mpg highway. The Z4 feels a lot quicker than I expected especially when in Sport or Sport+ mode.
It can get pricey as my test model is the base of the three Z4 choices. However in my opinion the Z4 is well worth the price of admission for the smiles per mile the Z4 delivers day after day.